One of the more tedious aspects of dealing with a DUI in Florida is getting your car out of police custody after it has been impounded. Following is a discussion of car impounding in Florida and what you need to know about the process if you ever find yourself facing a DUI arrest and prosecution in Florida.
Florida is among the many states that impounds the vehicles of those arrested for DUI. From a policy perspective, the goal of vehicle impoundment in Florida is to deter future DUI offenses by removing the defendant’s vehicle from his or her possession.
Although some states have found the practice of vehicle impoundment after a DUI to be an excessive punishment, courts in Florida continue the practice.
In Florida, the length of time for which an individual’s vehicle will be impounded after a DUI conviction increases after subsequent DUI offenses over a period of time.
After a first DUI conviction, Florida law mandates a ten-day vehicle impoundment that usually costs around $50.
If a defendant is convicted of a second DUI within 5 years of another DUI conviction in Florida, the law dictates that the defendant’s vehicle will be impounded for 30 days at a cost generally around $75.
If a defendant is convicted of a third DUI within ten years, Florida law requires vehicle impoundment for 90 days, which usually costs $115.
There are a few exceptions in Florida’s vehicle impoundment law. Vehicle impoundment is not required for a DUI with property damage. Nor is it required for a second DUI more than five years after the defendant’s previous DUI, or for a third DUI that occurs more than ten years from any prior DUI conviction in Florida.
Additionally, vehicle impoundment may be avoided due to special circumstances. If the defendant can show that another family member uses the vehicle and they have no other vehicle to use for their own transportation. In addition, if the vehicle is a “work vehicle,” or one that is owned by the defendant but used strictly by an employee of the defendant for the defendant’s business, a judge may waive the requirement for vehicle impoundment after a DUI.
Under Florida law, the impoundment order may be dismissed if the subject vehicle(s) represent the family’s only means of private or public transportation. The vehicle impoundment order may be waived if the subject vehicle is owned by a third party if that third party can show that the vehicle was either stolen or purchased legitimately by that third party.
Florida’s vehicle impoundment law is far reaching, as it may involve multiple vehicles. After the first DUI offense, either the vehicle involved in the offense or any one vehicle owned by the defendant may be impounded by Florida courts. However, after a second DUI in five years or a third DUI in ten years, all of the defendant’s vehicles may be impounded.
Florida law enables several parties to impound vehicles after a DUI conviction. Court personnel, the county sheriff, and immobilization agencies authorized by the state of Florida may conduct vehicle impoundment.